What is fiber and what are its practical functions?

Fiber is like traffic controllers © skypistudio

Fiber is like traffic controllers © skypistudio

Fiber is a type of a non-digestible carbohydrate which is very important for our general health, for the health of our colon, and it’s found exclusively only in fruits and vegetables. Fiber has many practical functions about which we are going to talk about in this articles.

Fiber slows down the rate of food emptying from the stomach into the small intestines

When we eat food, it first gets digested, converted into energy, and then sent to our blood vessels. This energy has two additional popular names which are glucose and blood sugar.

Now imagine a building and inside of that building imagine that our blood vessels are hallways and that our muscle cells are apartments. When we eat food, energy appears in the hallways, but how can that energy enter the apartments when the doors are closed? Someone has to open the door.

This is the job of insulin. Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, imagine as some gents running along the hallways and opening the apartments’ doors saying “Energy in the hallways! Here we go!” The doors open and energy goes into the cells of our muscles, brain, liver, and other organs. This is how the body works when everything including the pancreas and insulin is working as it should.

Doors of the muscle cells inside of blood vessels © Mopic

Doors of the muscle cells inside of blood vessels © Mopic

What happens when things don’t work as they should?

One problem occurs when too much energy gets into the hallways too fast, but the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin agents for opening the apartments’ doors. This is called Diabetes type 1 which makes up less than 5 to 10 percent of all diabetes cases.

Another problem arises when fats, imagine them as garbage, block the insulin agents from reaching the door handle and opening the doors. This is called Diabetes type 2 for which it has been proven that it could be reverse in many cases.

In both cases, a significant amount of energy cannot reach our muscles and since this energy  is not allowed to remain in our blood vessels for a long time, the body orders for one part of the energy to be converted into fat and the other to be released through urine. This means that a significant part of the energy from the food that we ate doesn’t reach our cells, and instead just goes through us and out the body.

Fat is garbage which blocks insulin from getting to muscle cells © Gudella

Fat is garbage which blocks insulin from getting to muscle cells © Gudella

Animal food products contain large amounts of fats and don’t contain any fiber. Refined plant-based foods contain almost no fiber and fiber slows down the rate of food emptying from the stomach into the small intestines. Imagine fiber as traffic controllers that control the flow of energy from the stomach through the small intestines into our blood vessels.

Fiber binds to cholesterol and thereby lowers the amount of cholesterol in the body

Fiber binds to cholesterol and then it ejects it out the body. Imagine fiber as police officers who arrest and throw cholesterol out our body.

We can only consume cholesterol if we eat animal food products and we can only consume fiber by eating fruits and vegetables.

Fiber is like police officers who arrest bandits inside your body © natashin

Fiber is like police officers who arrest bandits inside your body © natashin

Fiber binds to heavy metals inside the body

Fiber binds to heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic, kicks them out the body, and prevents the absorbing of heavy metals. How do these heavy metals end up inside the body? Through the air we  inhale, the water we drink, and the food we eat.

Fiber binds to water and therewith causes bowel movement

When we eat a diet that contains insignificantly little or no fiber then waste material in the colon can end up staying there for a long time, rotting, fermenting, and then causing the production of methane and other things that are harmful for the colon.

When we eat a diet rich in fiber, that fiber binds to water and contributes towards increasing the waste material size inside our colon. When the waste reaches a certain size it triggers the sensors inside the colon which trigger bowel movement and the scientific term for bowel movement is peristalsis. Therefore, a diet rich in fiber contributes towards us pooping regularly.

Fiber serves as the main food for the gut flora

Gut flora is the good bacteria inside our colon which, unlike our digestive tract, can digest fiber. As a byproduct of digestion, we get small chain fatty acids such as butyrate which is the preferred food of our colon’s epithelial cells which once again loudly screams that fiber is very important for our colon.

I root for fiber © MikeMihnevich

I root for fiber © MikeMihnevich

I root for fiber. Who do you root for?

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